Touring is expensive, especially when you tour with more than two people. There are so many costs associated with launching a tour and many of those costs are incurred before playing the first date. As an independent artist managing your own career and possibly running your own record label, you are responsible for fronting all the money for marketing, recording and eventually touring. There are ways, however, to get some financial support for some of the touring costs. It takes a little work, some research and some creative thinking and can result in having someone else pay for some of the touring expenses.
The key to this process is to first carefully consider your act, the members of the group and what connections each may have that might provide a lead to a potential support source. The other main factor to consider is what are the benefits your group can offer any potential supporter. To accomplish this process, consider having a brainstorming session with group members and make a series of lists guide you toward finding tour support.
Identify some of your touring expenses. – The following list will get you started. Add to this list with your own specific touring items that will be appropriate for tour support.
- Promotional materials for a specific tour- posters, flyers, photographs
- Merchandise items – t-shirts, hats, concert programs, etc.
- Hotel accommodations
- Touring vehicle – band owned or rental
- Public transportation- airfare, train, bus
- Concert venue rental fees for self-promoted concerts
- Office expenses- Shipping and mailing costs, phone
- Gas expense
- Equipment purchase or rental
- Special promotional events
- Guest artist touring with act
List the connections each of you may have. – This might include friends or associates who own a business, work for banks or utilities, advertising or travel agencies, printers, hotels, instrument manufacturers, etc. This is where your mailing list can also be an invaluable resource. Most artists collect names, addresses, email addresses and possibly phone numbers. Very few, however, ask those that sign the mailing list for their occupation. As you complete these exercises, it will become evident that having this piece of information may benefit future projects. Your mailing list is a marketing tool listing people that have attended a performance and have indicated their interest in continuing to receive information about your group. They volunteered their contact information. Now use that list to its greatest advantage.
Consider the following:
- What instrument does each band member play?
- What instrument stores or equipment companies do you frequent?
- What hotel chains do you frequent?
- What specialty stores do you shop for clothes, food, office supplies?
- What car rental company do you use most often?
- Where do you have your vehicle serviced?
- Where did you purchase your vehicle?
- Where do you have your printing done?
- Where do you do your banking?
- Do you have any specific sports or organizational ties?
You may come up with many other sources for potential tour support relationships as you continue to brainstorm and make your lists.
Identify the Benefits You Offer. – What can your group offer any of the potential support sources that will be of some benefit to their business or organization? By identifying the needs or concerns of the business or organization, you will be helping them in return, and this must be emphasized in any proposal made to the business.
The most common return benefit is advertising. By placing the business’ logo or “Tour support provided by XYZ” on all of the promotional materials or mention the business name in any media interviews, the business gains access to a new audience. Advertising and opening new markets, finding new customers are a high priority for every business and organization. Your band can offer potential tour supporters a creative, way to reach new customers by supporting your tour. It needs to be an attractive package. You need to demonstrate how broad your outreach will be, tell them what kinds of marketing you plan to do. It is especially attractive if the audience you plan to target is a good match for the potential supporter. For example, if you perform shows for families or children, a good match may be a baby-clothing store.
There are other kinds of benefits that may be attractive to businesses or organizations. Perhaps a specific tour is to benefit a charity in some way. By linking businesses interested in supporting that charity with your tour, they achieve name recognition as being a community minded organization. Certain funds can be funneled through the charity thereby offering supporters possible tax deductible benefits. (Check with the charitable organization regarding qualifying tax deductions.)
Individuals that are interested in helping your band progress may also be a good match to fund certain expenses. They may not require advertising benefits but may have other ideas of how they can be recognized for their involvement. You might consider offering to play for an event the individual is planning in return for their support. Some people working for a company may get their company to offer you tour support in return for the band playing a company event.
As you identify each potential supporter, link them with a specific portion of your expenses, i.e., a local printer with printing costs or a hotel chain with complimentary hotel rooms for all tours during the coming year. You get the idea.
The key to winning supporters is having an attractive tour package with well-planned marketing coupled with finding businesses, organizations, and individuals that have an interest in your band’s success. As you research some of these potential supporters, find out what your band can offer each supporter to maximize the benefits to them for their generous support.
Start with one item on your list of expenses as you begin to incorporate this tour support idea into your touring plans. Poster printing is a good starting option since it is visible and tangible. It is easier to get one sponsor for a tangible item than to attempt finding many sponsors all at once to cover all your expenses. Once you’ve been successful with one sponsor, and their name has been seen on your posters, other potential supporters may be more easily won as you show them examples of other supporter’s contributions. A number of my clients have incorporated this sponsorship tour support program into their touring routinely and have successfully reduced specific tour expenses during this last year. I wish you similar success. For those of you signed to a label, check out my article on How To Get Tour Support from Your Record Label.
And, I invite you to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and to sign up for free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you’ll get another valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You’ll find helpful books, career development seminars, Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets online course and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts. It’s all waiting for you at http://www.performingbiz.com. Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring, 3rd Edition.
* If you would like to reprint any of these articles, please contact Jeri Goldstein for permission.